MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — High School football is making a comeback in Minnesota, and so is a beloved coach.

Steve Jipson is the long-time head coach at Clinton-Graceville-Beardsley. He wasn’t sure what the future held after a cancer diagnosis and the threat of COVID-19.

“My senior class was 1979, and we were the first to play nine-man football on this field. It’s been beautiful out here,” Jipson said.

He has done his part to pile on the memories, helping the CGB Wolverines win their only state title in 2012.

“You’ve got friends forever after that, you know,” Jipson said. “Them kids want to talk football, you know, year after year.”

But the players aren’t just learning about the game from their coach. They’re learning about life.

“There’s a lot of change in life when you have cancer,” he said. “The fight is on with that, and hopefully we can beat it.”

Senior Nate Moberg has his coach’s back.

“Everybody loves him and supports him,” Moberg said.

There were moments when people wondered if Jipson had walked off the field for the last time. Cancer, and the threat of COVID put the season in doubt. But when the decision was made to bring football back, Coach Jipson got back in the game.

One day at a time is what’s emphasized on the field for the Wolverines, and Jipson is taking the same approach off the field.

“The town, the strangers, people that know me forever, yeah, it’s been more than great,” he said.

One of those supporters is Greg Vold, a lifelong friend and former teammate.

“Everything about Steve is inspiring,” Vold said.

His number-one wish isn’t another state title. It’s for his friend to finish the game he loves on his own terms.

“Our hope here is that he coaches here until he decides he doesn’t want to,” Vold said. “Not somebody else or something else, but his decisions.”

John Lauritsen

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